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How Will FL Officials Avoid Another Election Debacle? They Aren't Saying

Florida is a closed-primary state, where only people registered as Republicans can vote in Republican primaries, and only those registered as Democrats can vote in Democratic primaries. (Ken Jones/Flickr)
Florida is a closed-primary state, where only people registered as Republicans can vote in Republican primaries, and only those registered as Democrats can vote in Democratic primaries. (Ken Jones/Flickr)
February 14, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - With Florida's online voter registration deadline quickly approaching, voting rights groups want state officials to ensure they'll be transparent about their plans to troubleshoot any potential problems.

The groups - which include the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and the Florida League of Women Voters - sent a letter to Secretary of State Laura Lee raising concerns about the state's readiness to handle issues if people rush to the website 'registertovoteflorida.gov.'

Brad Ashwell, Florida state director with the group "All Voting is Local," says they're still waiting for answers from 2018, when the registration system broke down ahead of the primary and general elections.

"We're really just scratching our heads," says Ashwell. "Maybe they have taken steps but, you know, the public needs to have confidence in our election system. We need to know that it's going to be ready to handle that influx of voters."

Florida's primary is March 17, but voters must registered and declare their party affiliation by February 18. A spokesperson for the Department of State took our questions, but didn't have a response by deadline.

Ashwell says they've made repeated requests for contingency plans and are still waiting.

"This isn't what responsive government looks like," says Ashwell. "This isn't what transparent government looks like. We need to be able to find out what's going on. And we're trying to make sure voters has a voting system they can rely on, that they have confidence in their elections. There are a lot of things eating away at that from different angles."

Florida holds a closed primary, meaning voters must declare affiliation with a party to cast a vote in the primaries. So, anyone who wants to vote in the March 17 Democratic presidential primary next month must register as a Democrat by next Tuesday.


Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - FL